New MDLs for Tasigna, Seresto pet collars, but not recalled Belviq

A sign marks the Novartis facility in Cambridge
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Tuesday consolidated new MDLs over Novartis AG's cancer drug Tasigna and Seresto brand flea and tick collars for pets, while declining to create one for Eisai Co's withdrawn weight loss drug Belviq.


Tasigna was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of a form of leukemia. Plaintiffs suing Novartis have alleged that the company failed to warn that the drug can cause atherosclerosis, a disease marked by thickening and hardening of arteries that can lead to stroke, heart attack and other injuries.

More than 180 lawsuits have already been consolidated in a New Jersey state court for pretrial proceedings. The JPML transferred 18 federal lawsuits over the drug to a new MDL before U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton of the Middle District of Florida.

"All actions can be expected to share factual questions arising from allegations that Novartis failed to appropriately warn of the risks that use of Tasigna may cause severe atherosclerotic injuries," the panel wrote.

It said that the large number of state court cases suggested more actions were likely to be filed in the future and that actions had so far been filed in 13 districts. The panel rejected Novartis' proposal that the actions could be coordinated informally as "labor-intensive and inefficient."

"With the federal consolidation, coupled with the recent consolidation of nearly 200 Tasigna cases in New Jersey state court, the global Tasigna litigation is positioned for an efficient and just resolution," Richard Elias of Elias LLC, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an email.

"We believe strongly in the safety and efficacy of Tasigna and the content of the prescribing information for Tasigna," Novartis, which is represented by Joe Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth, said in a statement, adding that it would "vigorously litigate theses cases."

The case is In re Tasigna (Nilotinib) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3006.

For plaintiffs: Richard Elias of Elias LLC

For Novartis: Joe Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth


Seresto flea and tick collars for cats and dogs, developed by Bayer and now sold by Elanco, are designed to deliver small amounts of flea and tick killing chemicals onto pets' skin.

Plaintiffs in at least 16 federal lawsuits have alleged that the products can cause sickness or even death in pets. The JPML transferred those actions to U.S. District Judge John Blakey in the Northern District of Illinois, noting that the venue was near Elanco's Indianapolis headquarters, where documents and witnesses were likely to be located, and that the court had experience handling MDLs.

The court noted that the allegations in the lawsuits were "similar, if not identical," making MDL treatment appropriate.

Bruce Nagel of Nagel Rice, who represents a group of plaintiffs that had sought consolidation in the District of New Jersey, nonetheless said the Illinois venue was a "good choice for this case as it is near the documents and also accessible for all attorneys." In response to a request for comment, Bayer said only that it has not marketed Seresto products since it sold its animal health business to Elanco in August 2020. Elanco did not reply to request for comment.

The case is In re Seresto Flea and Tick Collar Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3009.

For plaintiffs: Bruce Nagel of Nagel Rice

For Elanco and Bayer: Tarek Ismail of Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum


The panel declined to centralize an MDL over Belviq, which Eisai pulled from the market last year at the request of the FDA, which concluded from a safety review that people taking the weight loss drug had higher rates of cancer.

The panel wrote that, while the plaintiffs seeking centralization "predict that the litigation will grow and ultimately will encompass hundreds or thousands of cases," there were currently only 20. The fact that more had not been filed since the drug's recall in February 2020 suggested that the number was not necessarily likely to grow, it said.

The drug was recalled because a safety clinical trial a safety clinical trial shows an increased occurrence of cancer, according to the FDA. The panel said that "informal coordination" would be a better way of promoting efficiency in pretrial proceedings

Eisai, which is represented by William Hoffman of Arnold & Porter, said in a statement that it was pleased with the decision.

"Eisai continues to believe that the FDA-approved, science-based label accurately represents the benefits and risks of Belviq," the company added.

Michael London of Douglas & London, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arena Pharmaceuticals, which marketed the drug before 2017, is also a defendant in the cases.

The case is In re Belviq (Lorcaserin HCL) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3005.

For plaintiffs: Michael London of Douglas & London

For Eisai: William Hoffman of Arnold & Porter

For Arena: Heidi Levine of Sidley Austin

(NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Eisai is represented by Heidi Levine of Sidley Austin. She represents Arena.)

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Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at